HOUSTON (Reuters) - Three more oil producers pulled employees out of Tropical Storm Gordon’s path, and companies cut 9 percent of U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production on Tuesday as the storm churned toward an expected nighttime landfall.
The storm, which is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane with winds of at least 74 miles per hour (119 kph), shifted eastward, reducing its threat to producers on the western side of the Gulf and most Gulf Coast refineries.
Companies evacuated 54 offshore platforms and halted 156,907 barrels per day of oil production and 232 million cubic feet per day of natural gas output, according to estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Offshore oil production accounts for 17 percent of total U.S. oil production and 5 percent of natural gas production.
Talos Energy Inc, Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp on Tuesday evacuated employees and shut in several platforms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Talos halted output at its Ram Powell, Amberjack and Pompano platforms, Exxon its Lena platform and Chevron Corp curtailed its Petronius platform.
That followed Anadarko Petroleum Corp’s decision on Monday to evacuate staff and shut production at two oil platforms in the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Other major oil producers, including ConocoPhillips, BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said they continued to operate and were monitoring conditions. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest privately owned crude terminal in the United States, also said it was operating normally.
U.S. and global crude futures <CLc1/LCOc1> were up a fraction as traders said they did not expect the storm to have long-term impact on Gulf output. The storm’s potential threat also was overshadowed by a strong dollar and storage data that showed rising production, traders said.
“We have a lot of shut-ins. A couple rigs, a couple ports are closed to incoming vessels,” one broker said. “But right now it is a Category 1 (hurricane). I can’t see why that scares anyone.”
The ports of Gulfport and Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama, were closed to all traffic on Tuesday, the U.S. Coast said in a statement. New Orleans-area ports were operating under an advisory that called for gale-force winds within 24 hours.
Reporting by Jessica Resnick-Ault, Scott Disavino, Devika Krishna Kumar in New York and Erwin Seba and Collin Eaton in Houston; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney